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I am storing raw beef muscle meat (for example tenderloin), in the refrigerator (just above freezing 0°C / 32°F), just for several days. I put the raw meat in a canning mason glass jar and screw the metal lid tightly so its leak-proof. Then submerge the jars in a bath of water and ice in a chest freezer set to not freeze, but just keep around 0°C.

By confirming there is both water and ice in the ice bath, I can be sure the beef is around 0°C all the time, the lowest temperature I can get before ice crystals start forming which would cause meat cells to rupture and lose water.

Yet, after I take the meat out of the jar, there is a considerable amount of liquid - red-coloured water with myoglobin, in the jar (about 50 mL in a 1 L jar which was packed with about 1 kg of beef tenderloin). So I am losing about 5% of meat mass to liquid during a few days of storage. Note that no liquid was dripping from the meat when it was being put in the jar, and the jar was empty and dry.

How can I minimize this loss of liquid?

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  • I don't think there's a way, but in any case you don't want to stop it. The best beef is dry aged so it loses moisture as it intensifies the flavor of the meat.
    – GdD
    Feb 2 at 8:50
  • @GdD Oh, that's interesting, but confusing. Won't some flavour go away with this meat juice (it isn't pure water)? Also when you cook a steak and it loses too much moisture, and gets dry isn't good, becomes tough, so I thought I want to keep as much moisture in? And sealing beef in a mason canning jar to sit in its own juice isn't like dry ageing, more like wet ageing.
    – lowtoxin
    Feb 2 at 9:47
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You can't prevent it, that's how it works. It will always lose some liquid, no matter what. This is why supermarkets sell packaged meat with "diapers" on the bottom.

As mentioned in comments, you can buy dry aged beef. It has already lost that moisture, so you won't have the liquid to deal with, if that bothers you. This doesn't mean, of course, that you will somehow "save" the liquid, it will still have flown out.

Another theoretical option is to buy better quality meat. Mass-produced meat from young animals who don't exercise tends to lose more moisture than the meat from traditionally raised animals, especially if you are looking not at tenderloin but at stewing meat from old cows. I am including this information here more for completeness' sake. If you find a supplier for this type of meat (which is difficult in itself), you will save part of your 5% weight loss, but you will pay 4-5 times more per kg, if not more, so it doesn't give you an economic advantage.

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  • My concern is not about having liquid to deal with, or any economic advantage, but only about losing flavor and texture, making the steak more dry if it loses moisture. I am actually buying traditionally raised animals, but this is in Asia and the cows are not hung, they are slaughtered the same day I get them, so maybe its a different tradition then you had in mind (beef hanged for a week). I just thought that losing water was some kind of fault in storage process and I am degrading the quality of the steak if this happens.
    – lowtoxin
    Feb 2 at 13:34
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There is no way to prevent water loss beyond what you have done. This is one of the reasons why freshness is so important. You either freeze the meat immediately (which alters the texture) or store refrigerated and lose some moisture over time. Fresh meat combined with an adequate resting period after cooking are the two biggest contributors to juicy, well textured meat.

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  • I think freezing would result in even more moisture loss as ice crystals would puncture cells and release water? I specifically not freeze it, but keep it above 0°C only to prevent a greater moisture loss. Also, too fresh beef is tough, not tender. This beef eaten immediately on the day of slaughter (this is Asian local beef, not hung), gives a tough, barely edible steak, but I noticed by keeping the beef a few days in the fridge like this makes it noticeably more tender. I just wanted to improve on this glass jar wet ageing by trying to lose less liquid then I do.
    – lowtoxin
    Feb 2 at 22:31

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